Indoor ice rink beats warm weather at garden centre

Ice rinks are fewer in number this year at garden centres after warm weather and other factors dampened the trend, but Beckworth Emporium in Northamptonshire has found success after bringing its rink and curling lane indoors following melt problems in 2015.

Beckworth's curling
Beckworth's curling

Beckworth's Mike Easom said: "It's going very well, with a fantastic atmosphere and has certainly overcome the mild and wet weather with the operation being indoors.  Our curling has been very popular and the Carlsberg Blizzard Bar."

The rink holds 238 people and hosts late nights and corporate evenings. Beckworth moved its 715sqm ice rink indoors after suffering from melting problems last winter. The rink opened on 12 November.

Preliminary data shows that 2016’s global temperatures are approximately 1.2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to an assessment by the World Meteorological Organization. The UK experienced an Indian summer but the Met Office expects the first half of December to eb "rather cold" after the second half of November features "sunshine and showers for most...cold, with overnight frost likely," then "unsettled" weather.

Van Hage in Hertfordshire opened its Christmas grotto and ice rink last week. Waterside Garden Centre near Peterborough has a 12x12m synthetic ice rink opening on the same day.

Ruxley Manor in Kent has a 567sqm outdoor rink, which opened on 21 October. Webbs of Wychbold's rink opened on 5 November. Last year, Webbs used a roof to beat the weather. Frosts Millets Farm rink opened on 19 November. Whitehall Lacock opened on 1 November. Planters at Bretby opened on 12 November. Wentworth's 12m x 22m super-glide rink opens opens on 19 November.

Frosts Woburn Sands new seasonal Christmas showroom opened recently as part of a £1.5m redevelopment including a new restaurant.

Frosts was among the many garden centres where skating was available last winter, with three rinks. Wyevale Cadbury, Huntingdon and Bicester Avenue also hosted skaters. Wyevale are not advertising rinks this season.

Elsewhere, structure builder Thermoflor, which recently worked on Rosebourne garden centre in Hampshire and Klondyke in Leeds, said Christmas markets are facing "serious competition from garden centres in the battle to win customers’ attention and money. Over the last few years garden centres have provided increasingly large-scale, professional experiences that give customers a great day out."

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